Thu, 18 April 2024
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EU mulls fresh sanctions over Navalny death

Update : 20 Feb 2024, 09:53

"He was slowly murdered in a Russian jail by Putin's regime." Those were the words used by the European Union's foreign affairs chief to describe Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition politician reported dead last week. EU ministers held talks with Navany's widow Yulia Navalnaya in Brussels on Monday, pledging their support after she accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of causing her husband's death behind bars

"Mr Navalny's unexpected and shocking death is yet another sign of the accelerating and systematic repression in Russia," the bloc said in a statement. "The EU will spare no efforts to hold Russia's political leadership and authorities to account, in close coordination with our partners; and impose further costs for their actions, including through sanctions."

Borrell gave no timeline or details on possible sanctions, which will likely include asset freezes and travel bans against people or entities suspected of involvement in Navalny's death. "We will try and identify who is directly responsible. It's not easy because of course there we rely on Russian information," he told

More support for Russian opposition?

Maria Martisiute, a Russia analyst with the European Policy Centre, fears individual sanctions would make little difference. "They would not be deterring enough," she told DW.

Martisiute argues the bloc should do more to support other Russian opposition politicians and their families at risk of meeting a similar end. "They should be given rights in democratic countries to live and do their work independently," she said. "They should be given an opportunity, if they want, to leave."

EU High Representative Borrell said several member states have already granted political asylum to a number of Russian dissidents, with one EU official telling DW the bloc offers additional support but keeps details tightly guarded to avoid additional security risks for those speaking out inside Russia.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock also paid tribute to other political activists, saying on the sidelines of the talks, "The spirit of freedom can never be silenced forever."

"Alexei Navalny was one of the most visible opposition figures who courageously stood up for this freedom, but there are many, many more who are being held in prisons in the most brutal way because of their advocacy for freedom in Russia."

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